In the end, it was a unanimous vote by the
School Committee to enter into negotiations with Almudena Abeyta as the next
superintendent of schools, although it took a handful of votes to reach that
The Committee met Thursday, May 9 to
consider three finalists to replace Mary Bourque, who is retiring this year
after more than 30 years in the Chelsea schools.
While each of the three finalists for
superintendent garnered some support from Committee members Thursday night,
Abeyta, currently the assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction, and
Assessment for the Somerville Public schools, had the majority of the support
from the board throughout four votes.
While there was not unanimous support for
Abeyta from the get-go, Committee members universally praised the high quality
of all three finalists. In addition to Abeyta, the other two finalists were
Anthony Parker, the Weston High School principal, and Ligia Noriega-Murphy,
assistant superintendent of secondary schools in the Boston Public Schools.
“Chelsea is very lucky tonight to have three
outstanding candidates,” said At-Large School Committee member Frank DePatto.
“The city is in good hands with any of the candidates.”
DePatto noted that having three highly
qualified candidates did make for a difficult decision for the Committee
members, a sentiment echoed by District Five School Committee member Henry
Wilson – who just joined the Committee a few weeks ago.
District Seven School Committee member Kelly
Garcia said Abeyta was the candidate who spoke most to her as an educator.
“She answered every question with calmness, urgency,
confidence, and experience,” said Garcia.
In the first round of voting, it looked like
Abeyta was in as the choice of the School Committee with a 5-3 vote. The
Committee’s ninth member, Rosemarie Carlisle, could not attend the meeting
because of a medical issue.
However, after some legal consultation, it
was determined that the vote was taken after only one name was entered into
nomination. Under procedure, the Committee should have entered all candidates
being considered into nomination.
During that round of voting, Abeyta fell
just short of a majority, garnering four votes, with Noriega-Murphy getting
three and Parker grabbing one vote. A second round with the top-two vote
getters ended with a 5-3 majority for Abeyta, enough to secure approval.
DePatto, who voted for Noriega-Murphy during
the open nominations, made the motion to make the vote unanimous for Abeyta.
Even though he
backed Noriega-Murphy, after the meeting, DePatto said he was happy with the
outcome of the meeting.
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